barbecue trail
Want Some of This Texas Barbecue? Get In Line. For 3 Hours or Longer.
Waiting for hours in the food line at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Tex., is a rite of passage for the famished and the faithful from all over.
By Manny Fernandez

I express no opinion on whether it’s worth it to stand for three hours to get into this place. When we went to San Antonio, the closest we got to Austin was San Marcos. There just wasn’t enough time to do everything. I’m sure there are those who say there are some places (or many places) smaller and more off the beaten track that are better. YMMV.

We bopped through the Hill Country in the summer of 2010 to do some part of the barbecue trail. Because what’s not to love about that kind of thing? My weight hit its apex shortly thereafter, then I decided enough was enough. But that’s not the point of this post. You don’t each that much dense protein in one day to lose weight. The point is that I have never seen that pinkish butcher paper pictured above anywhere but a Texas barbecue joint. 

This shot was taken with my very last Blackberry, hence the so-so composition and color. This is at Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, Texas. Stop three that day, after the Gonzales Food Market in Gonzales, and City Market in Luling. We did the same food at each stop: sampler portions of brisket, ribs and house-made sausage, though by this point we were too stuffed already and opted out of the sausage. The folks in each place could probably tell we were tourists because you can take as much white sandwich bread as you want and we barely took any while others were taking a whole loaf. Although it was about 1000 degrees that day and we ate the point of being physically uncomfortable, it was a hell of a lot of fun. If you’re in no hurry, the farm-to-market roads beat the heck out of the interstate.

The truly scary part, looking back, is that we ate dinner that night. Outside, on the River Walk. Where it was about 95 and 99 percent humidity. How we survived, I’m not sure. But I can never hear Cielito Lindo without thinking back fondly of that night. Even if the strolling mariachis all looked like moonlighting CPA’s.